CLEARWATER, Fla. – Some quick notes from Phillies camp on the team’s last day in Florida.
• Cole Hamels will take a big step in his preparation for the season when he pitches in a game for the first time this spring Thursday morning. It will be a minor-league game at 1 p.m. at Carpenter Complex. The lefty is slated to throw two innings.
Hamels was behind schedule all spring as he recovered from an offseason bout of shoulder tendinitis. He has felt “great” in recent bullpen sessions.
Hamels lines up to join the big-league rotation in late April if all continues to go well.
• On Wednesday, the Phillies informed 40-year-old Bobby Abreu that he would not make the team’s opening day roster (see story).
The Phillies granted Abreu some time to look around for another big-league opportunity. During batting practice Thursday morning, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. heard from Abreu’s agent. Abreu decided to pursue an opportunity with another club so the Phillies granted him his unconditional release.
“I hope it works out well for him and he continues to play,” Amaro said. “People know my affinity for him as a person and a player. Hopefully he doesn’t beat us up.”
Manager Ryne Sandberg complimented Abreu for his professionalism. Sandberg said the Phillies were looking for more versatility on their bench.
“What it came down to is putting a bench together with some versatility and guys able to do multiple things,” Sandberg said. “As it turned out, he just didn’t fit in with the rest of the pieces as a piece for our bench.”
The Phillies are still uncertain who their final one or two bench players will be. They are looking internally and at players in other organizations.
• Cuban pitcher Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez’s shoulder is feeling better, Amaro said, but Gonzalez will stay back in Florida and begin the season on the disabled list. The Phillies may need spots on their 40-man roster so it would not be surprising to see Gonzalez be placed on the 60-day disabled list as he tries to rebuild his arm strength. Players on the 60-day DL are exempt from the 40-man roster.
• Kevin Frandsen took a $900,000 risk by rejecting assignment to the Phillies’ minor-league system. He forfeited that salary, became a free agent and agreed with the Washington Nationals on a $900,000 deal.
So Frandsen landed soundly on his feet – with the team that is favored to win the NL East. He will make the Nats’ opening day roster as a reserve infielder/pinch hitter.
Frandsen met with reporters in Nats’ camp Thursday morning.
“Ultimately, it went from shock on Sunday to sick to my stomach on Monday to being really confident what I was about to do on Tuesday,” he said. “It was a leap of faith, almost, in electing free agency.
“People thought I was crazy, but at the same time I thought I earned the opportunity to be in the big leagues. I know I'm a big-league player, I know I can help a big-league team out. And I feel like I'm a winning player. I want to help out and win something. Obviously the Nationals present that opportunity, and I'm excited. I know there's an energy around here that's awesome.
“I had the greatest three-plus years over there in Philly. Ryne Sandberg and that whole coaching staff -- but Ryno alone meant the world to me and to my wife and to our family. That was what was hard, leaving him and all those guys in that clubhouse.
“On the other hand, I've been around long enough to know this is a business. They made their decision. But it is what it is. The Nationals gave me an opportunity and I’m really excited about it.”